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Driving Business Agility
By Cindy McKenzie, CIO, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Inc.
Digital creative and delivery services are especially affected by the growth of content types and formats, and by the increased localization of content. Companies like ours do not control the pace of change; we have to be ready to react when these changes occur, and to anticipate them so that we can identify and develop new services for when clients need them. For example, the recent exponential growth of localized content (that is dubbed and subtitled for release in multiple geographies) has meant that to continue to service clients, companies like ours need to grow our capabilities and scale, and increase efficiencies to meet global demand.
Business agility is key to enabling our organization to meet these ever changing needs. Forrester defines business agility as “the quality that allows an enterprise to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine.” In the case of our company, we have evolved over the last decade from a physical lab and distribution service to a digital, global platform to service clients’ content across the media supply chain. A significant amount of the change to digital was accomplished through acquisitions. The volume of acquisitions resulted in a company made up of siloed organizations, systems and processes. Our current need to grow and evolve as quickly as possible to meet changing industry demand has required that we implement a culture focused on business agility.
As is true of most companies, driving business agility typically requires significant changes to culture, processes, and systems. In our case, it was driven by our CEO’s belief that we had to have a holistic strategy across the global organization and break down siloes to deliver for our clients across all of our capabilities in a seamless manner. He believed that we had to have an agile organization that could react quickly to changes in demand, and we made specific changes across our organization to support that vision. Many of these apply to structuring for agility in general, including:
• Organizational changes to bring in people who share the overall vision and sense of urgency
As is true of most companies, driving business agility typically requires significant changes to culture, processes and systems
• Implementation of an organizational structure that is focused on leadership rather than management and a networked structure rather than a hierarchical structure
• Market awareness and feedback programs on both current services and on the industry as a whole
• KPIs and analytics that provide insight about performance, provide accountability and help model forecasted changes in the industry
• Communication mechanisms that support knowledge dissemination and allow feedback loops with all levels of the organization
• Process Reengineering programs that streamline and harmonize processes, enable successful change execution, software innovation, and sourcing supply
• An aggressive business and technology strategy and roadmap
• Foundational systems and an architecture framework that support a plug and play environment
• Business development framework to actively look at potential acquisitions and partnerships that can accelerate change
Acquisitions, start-ups and business partnerships are additional tools that can support business agility. Working closely with vendors and suppliers to explain business needs and directions and exploring opportunities to partner with them can help enable a business and technology strategy. In our case, we keep abreast of new technology start-ups that may provide innovations that can enhance our business processes and technology platforms. As well, we scan the market to see if we can leap-frog our own internal efforts through strategic acquisitions.
Within IT, the focus is on instilling an agile mind-set that focuses on finding elegant, simple solutions to business problems. We focus on building minimum viable solutions that can be delivered faster and therefore deliver value faster. We are also focused on creating an architectural framework that supports modular services, and plug and play capabilities to leverage a variety of solutions both package and custom. Cloud, SaaS, big data/business intelligence, machine learning and agile development are key technology enablers for business agility and are being leveraged to increase speed to market, to support fluctuations in demand, and to free up internal resources to focus on value added initiatives.
We see business agility as a continuous journey, and make many small incremental changes to better respond to the changing media and entertainment industry, which is becoming increasingly global, requiring companies like ours to scale quickly. To do this, we are setting up processes to constantly respond and adjust to internal and external opportunities and threats such as market changes, new technologies and customer needs.
The media and entertainment industry continues to face major disruptions to its business models and as well, new opportunities and players continue to emerge in this changing market. For our company to succeed and thrive we must have an organization, platforms and processes that allow us to understand, respond to, and anticipate changing market conditions as quickly as possible. All areas of our global organization will need to be partnered to meet these demands and as technology continues to evolve, IT will be a key contributor to both enabling the business, but also in providing technology and data driven value added products to our clients.